Debutant Collin Morikawa held off a charge from Jordan Spieth to win the 149th British Open by two shots after a scintillating final round of action at Royal St. George’s.
At just 24, Morikawa claimed his second major thanks to a bogey-free round of 66 to finish on 15 under par.
The American had never even played in links conditions until last week’s Scottish Open when he tied for 71st, the worst finish of his professional career.
But the world number four showed no sign of inexperience as he revelled in the sweltering conditions as temperatures hit 30 degrees celsius in Sandwich on England’s south-east coast.
His flawless victory created several pieces of astonishing history, including:
— Becoming the ninth person to win the British Open on his first attempt, the first to do so since 2003; and
— A new record as the only player in golf to win two majors as a debutant after he also won the 2020 USPGA Championship
— Becoming just the second person, alongside Tiger Woods, to win both those majors before the age of 25
— Becoming the first man since 1934 to win two majors inside his first eight appearances.
Collin Morikawa finished with nerves of steel.Source:Getty Images
Overnight leader Louis Oosthuizen’s bogey at the fourth allowed Morikawa to move into a share of the lead and he never looked back after a two-shot swing at the par-five seventh.
Oosthuizen, who finished at 11 under in a share of third with Jon Rahm, twice found bunkers around the green to drop another shot.
“This is by far one of the best moments of my life,” said the world number four, who handled the pressure with ease in front of crowds of 32,000 fans on the Open Championship’s return after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
His silky, calm final round had golfing pundits around the world blown away.
Collin Morikawa looks like a young golfing genius , doesn’t he ? Nerveless display of pure class to win The Open.
Morikawa added: “To see some of the best crowds I’ve ever seen, I look forward to my trip every year to the British Open to see you guys.
“I’ve had belief in myself since turning pro that I can do it.
“When it’s coming to these tournaments, courses and styles that I have never played, I do my homework Monday to Wednesday to know what I need to do.”
Horror moment cost Jordan Spieth extraordinary win
Spieth was left to regret his sloppy finish to Saturday’s third round when bogeys at the final two holes saw him start the day two behind Morikawa.
“The finish yesterday was about as upset as I’ve taken a finish of a round to the house,” said the three-time major winner.
Open Champion, Collin Morikawa of United States celebrates with the Claret Jug.Source:Getty Images
“I walked in and said: ‘Is there something that I can break? I knew that was so important because I would have been in the final group.” The 2017 British Open champion slipped back to seven under after dropping another two shots at the fourth and sixth before roaring back.
An eagle at the seventh launched Spieth’s challenge and he completed the final 12 holes in six under par with further birdies at the ninth, 10th, 13th and 14th.
“I’m proud of going six under in the last 12 in this golf tournament and putting some pressure on Collin,” added Spieth. “I did all I could.” But Morikawa never flinched to become the first man to win two majors on debut at that event.
Rahm also showed why he was the pre-tournament favourite after landing his first major at last month’s US Open with a brilliant 66 that could have been far better but for a better day with the putter.
The Spaniard needed an eagle on seventh to get him going, but just ran out of holes after four consecutive birdies between 13 and 16.
Oosthuizen’s wait for a second major goes on as he finished in the top three for the eighth time since his sole success in the 2010 British Open at St Andrews.
South African Dylan Frittelli, who was only called into the field as 11th reserve on Monday, finished fifth on nine under.
World number one Dustin Johnson finished in a tie for eighth on seven under.
Final leaderboard results from 2021 British Open
265 – Collin Morikawa (USA) 67 64 68 66
267 – Jordan Spieth (USA) 65 67 69 66
269 – Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 64 65 69 71, Jon Rahm (ESP) 71 64 68 66
271 – Dylan Frittelli (RSA) 66 67 70 68
272 – Mackenzie Hughes (CAN) 66 69 68 69, Brooks Koepka (USA) 69 66 72 65
273 – Daniel Berger (USA) 70 67 68 68, Dustin Johnson (USA) 68 65 73 67, Robert MacIntyre 72 69 65 67, Scottie Scheffler (USA) 67 66 69 71
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